Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Woman Wanted (1935)

I've been a little Joel McCrea crazy (Joel McCrazy?) lately so I really dug this 1935 outing with too oft-over-looked Maureen O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan plays a woman on the run for a crime she didn't commit and Joel McCrea plays a lawyer who helps her out. It's no surprise thathe falls for her and even less surprise that he manages to get her out of the mess.

The film is quite romantic and funny. There is a deliberate It Happened One Night vibe here as the couple bum around the countryside hiding from the cops. There is also a fair amount of suspense as they lurk around the waterfront and other foggy locations. One of the great "only in the movies" touches is that McCrea's character lives on a houseboat, and drives around in a speedboat most of the time. He also has a funny butler (Robert Grieg), which is another one of those things that usually only happens in the movies. To add to the drama, McCrea has a fiancee (Adrienne Ames) from whom he must hide his beautiful fugitive. Woman Wanted is really a romantic drama, crying out to be screwball. Make that fiancee a bit more of a dragon lady, steal a few more cars, throw in an animal, and you'd have it!

O'Sullivan is an actress who I've probably seen in a dozen films, but haven't noticed her acting until recently. To confess the truth, she is part of a cabal of actresses whom I get confused with one another: Maureen O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Hara, Margaret Sullavan and Margaret Lockwood. I actually like ALL of these actresses and am well aware which one I'm watching at the time that I'm doing so. But get me away from one of their movies or the IMDB and I'm at a loss. They are all from the British Isles, their names all start with "M" and most sound Irish. I've had to develop a memory device O' Sullivan is Tarzan's girl. She has the extra "O" in her name, that sounds like Tarzan's call. O'Hara is the Quiet man's Woman. He's so quiet you don't "O'HEAR-a him. (Hey, I didn't say these were clever, just that they work!) Margaret Sullavan is spelled with an "a" as in "The shop around the Corner tried to sell a van to me today." Margaret Lockwood was in the Lady Vanishes. "Michael Redgrave had to knock wood to get lucky with Lockwood." Memorize these idiotic sayings and you'll never get them confused again, I promise.

As for Woman Wanted, despite my efforts to re-write it mentally, it is probably hopelessly mediocre. It's predictable, derivative and forgettable, all that, I give you, and yet... Joel McCrea and speedboats! What's not to love?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I be ILLin, more treasures from Inter-library Loan

Here are more treasures from two long out of print biographies, Robert Donat by J.C. Trewin and Mr. Chips: The Life of Robert Donat by Keith Barrow. Trewin's book is as close to an official biography as we have. He was selected by the family, given access to Donat's personal papers and John Donat wrote the prologue to the volume. It ranks as one of the finest celebrity bios I've ever read, (and trust me, I've read a lot of these things) in its balance between research and writing. It captures the all-too human flaws and foibles without being excessively negative or gossipy. The only criticism I have is that Trewin is a little bit in love with himself as a writer. He indulges in frequent stream of conscience riffs that are really difficult to follow unless you're completely immersed in the period about which he's talking. Barrow's book on the other hand, is a delicious read, and a bit more gossipy, but without the tendency to confabulation from which so many Hollywood hacks suffer. I would highly recommend both for anyone with an interest in Robert Donat.

Donat's first starring stage role in the Unknown Soldier in 1929 at age 24. Especially prominent in this photo is Donat's heavy lower lid liner. The man must have gone through a lot of kohl pencils. He didn't stop wearing this in his films until the latter half of the thirties, long after most actors had given it up. I've always found it to be a charming, kind of Johnny Deppish tendency.

Studying his lines in the Count of Monte Cristo. This was Donat's only Hollywood film. It was very successful and Donat was offered several juicy adventure roles like Captain Blood. Donat was afraid of the long-term Hollywood contract and preferred to make films in England where he could work on the stage as well.

Love the bling: The Ghost Goes West

Donat on vacation with Joan Lynam. She had worked as Alfred Hitchock's secretary during the time that he was making The 39 Steps. He was still married to his wife, Ella at the time of their affair.

Robert with his two eldest children John and Joanne. His son described Donat in this period as an absentee father who was returned to his children for holiday photo opportunities. It wasn't until his children were adults that he developed a real relationship with them.

Donat and Bette Davis never met in real life, but they were photoshopped together onto the cover of Picturegoer. The two stars were the winners of a reader's poll.

With Marlene Dietrich in Knight Without Armor. Dietrich went to bat for Donat when illness delayed the production. She used her leverage to prevent him from being replaced in the film. Donat always was a bit awestruck around her. His son describes his buying a large, fancy Sunbeam roadster to impress and then she refused to ride in it saying she preferred little cars.

I really can never get enough stills from Knight without Armor. The fur hats. The five O Clock shadow. Yum!

As the Old Croaker in The Good-Natured Man with Stewart Granger and Constance Cummings at the Old Vic. This was the first of Robert Donat's "old man make-up" parts. It shocked the London theater scene, since Donat was mainly seen as a leading man, but the great theatrical genius Tyrone Gutherie who staged the play wanted Donat to stretch out into character parts. He discouraged Donat from pursuing his wish to play Romeo on stage, feeling him too old for the part. Though Donat could certainly play younger than his age, it was often dependent on his health and Donat had just recovered from months of battling asthma which left him so reduced in size that his costumes had to be frequently padded out.

With Constance Cummings in Romeo and Juliet on stage. Donat's Romeo wasn't terribly successful. Donat was quite ill during rehearsals and he was perhaps thinking that Guthrie had been right after all. He had turned down the chance to play the part on screen opposite Norma Shearer. This was the only one of Shakespeare's "great roles" that Donat ever had the chance to play on stage or on screen. He was suggested as a possible Hamlet in the 1930s when Alexander Korda attempted to mount a screen production, but it would not be until Olivier in the 1940s, that the Young Prince of Denmark would be seen as a viable draw for movie audiences.

With Ralph Richardson in 1938 in the Citadel.

My favorite scene from Good-bye Mr. Chips.

On stage at the Old Picadilly in The Devil's Desciple in 1940.

With real-life lover Rosamund John in The Devil's Disciple.

Robert Donat as the "elder" Mr. Pitt in The Young Mr. Pitt in 1942. (Donat played both parts). Donat donated his proceeds to the war effort and had his first of two opportunities of working with the great British director, Carol Reed.

Donat heavily made up in your dad's eyebrows for a screen test for the part of Sikes in Oliver Twist. Donat lost the part to character actor Robert Newton.

With future wife Renee Asherson in a 1946 stage production of Much Ado About Nothing. Asherson turned down a season at the Old Vic co-starring with Laurence Olivier because of growing relationship with Donat. The production was Donat's West End Shakespeare debut and received mixed reviews. Reviewers at the time complained that his touch was too heavy for comedy. (I find this baffling. He must have had an off night or something!) As a result of mediocre reviews, Donat never realized his dream of playing Hamlet or Lear on stage.

With Dorice Fordred in The Sleeping Clergyman.

Another scene in the Sleeping Clergyman. Though his Shakespeare the previous year had been a bit of a failure, the Sleeping Clergyman was his biggest stage hit. It played first in Manchester, then in Scotland (where the native's griped about Donat's adopted Scot's accent) and finally for 250 performances at the Picadilly in London. Donat played a man dying of tuberculosis and found dying on a nightly basis more fatiguing than actually being sick.

With Margaret Leighton in The Winslow Boy. Donat plays Sir Robert Morton. The role was a tricky one that could have easily been seen as unsympathetic. Donat managed to make Sir Robert likable without betraying the original play. Donat's contemporary doppleganger, Jeremy Northam also played Sir Robert Morton and seemed to allow Donat's characterization to influence him.

Donat makes his directorial debut with The Cure for Love (1950). Donat admired directors such as Fritz Lang and Orson Welles and hoped to make the leap into a second career. Biographers characterize him as quite exacting and demanding of all whom he worked with, though leading lady Renee Asherson must not have thought he was too bad--she married him three years later.

Donat and Asherson remained married till his death in 1958. Donat ended his career on a high note on both stage and screen. His performance as Becket in Murder in the Cathedral is legendary and resulted in the longest ovation in the history of the Old Vic. His performance as the Mandarin opposite Ingrid Bergman in the Inn of the Sixth Happiness was critically well-received and surely would have resulted in the longed for "second" career as a character actor, had Donat not died of a brain tumor weeks after the film's completion.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Show Me Your Geek Sphere

Announcing the Cinema OCD Show Me Your Geek Sphere Contest. All you need to do to participate is to email me a photo of you and your movie geek sphere. Show me the piles of memorabilia, lovingly framed photos, shrines and filing cabinets stuffed with research. Extra special bonus points will go to those finding a way to pay tribute to Cinema OCD in their geeksphere, such as a print out of my macro, valentines or fake magazine cover.

I know lots of you are serious memorabilia collectors. I look forward to drooling over your collections!

All photos received by April 10th will be eligible for the contest. The winner will be determined by poll from a pool of finalists selected by me. By sending me your photo you are giving me permission to post it, so don't send it if you don't wanna be on the internets. The winner will receive the Cinema OCD t-shirt of their choice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Cleaning!

Welcome to the new improved Cinema OCD. The first thing you'll notice is the new look. Thanks to Kate Gabrielle from Silents and Talkies for designing my new logo. I highly recommend Kate's services as a graphic designer and artist. She was so fast, professional and fun to "work" with that the process was completely painless for me.

The new look is inspired by covers for the great magazine Photoplay from the early 1930s and by film poster art in general. I've always admired the somewhat-trashy, totally-pithy and beautifully-illustrated film magazines of the classic era and I've always hoped to bring that vibe to my blog.

Cinema OCD has been improved content wise as well. I'm going to be phasing out the Media Room, and in doing so, I'll be incorporating all my media room posts into this blog. The media room was originally meant as a place to post overflow (if I'd already posted five times in a month on Barbara Stanwyck and wanted to post some more) or as a place to put book reviews. The overflow has become unnecessary because I've been trying to vary the movies I watch more and book reviews never really materialized. All the old posts are marked with the tag "media room" so if you missed them you can go back and find them here. Spare media will now be posted on my tumblr page.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

I was first drawn to The Barretts of Wimpole Street because the stage version starring Katharine Cornell and Brian Aherne (pictured at left) is on my ever-growing list of time machine plays, that if I ever get access to a TARDIS, I'll be sure to go back and watch. Written in 1930 by Rudolpf Besier, the original Broadway production ran for more than 300 performances at the Empire theater. That run was followed by a highly successful cross-country tour and then a world tour that took Aherne to far-flung places like the Australian outback about which he writes charmingly in his autobiography A Proper Job. I was intrigued by the story although, the film version stars Norma Shearer and Fredric March, (as if they were a pair to sneeze at!)

It's not often that a movie is made about one writer let alone two. Writing usually just isn't exciting enough as an activity to be the subject of a movie. And writer's lives, while they have their moments of drama, tend to be about observation more than experience. Fictional writers of the ilk of Carrie Bradshaw abound, but it's really pretty rare that a real life author is the subject of a film. The most we usually get on film is an actor portraying Sommerset Maughm appearing as a rye character in an adaptation of one his books. Occasionally a biopic about a writer, like say Becoming Jane about Jane Austen, will make it into the mainstream, but it is unusual if it is faithful to reality in any way. But Barretts is truly rare in that it focuses on the lives of two writers and it is not wildly off the mark. The story revolves around Barrett's father who was steadfastly opposed to any marriage by any of his children and the hiding in plain site courtship that she carried on with admirer and fellow-poet Robert Browning. It is based loosely on the mass of correspondence between the two famous poets from 1945 until their elopement in 1946. Much of the dialog in the film is quoted from or paraphrased from the letters. This makes for a slightly artificial and odd way of communicating, since in real life, people don't speak as they would write. The work succeeded despite this stagey quality and despite the fact that the problems of two rich neurotic thirty year old virgins couldn't have had much appeal to people facing life in America in the early 1930s.

Or could it?

I've been trying to work out what it was in the play that resonated with audiences in the grip of the Depression. At first I thought that it was just escapist fantasy, yearning for a time and place where money problems seems simply to not exist. In reality of course, money was an issue. Robert Browning was a poor poet who managed on a very small income from his father. If Elizabeth Barrett Browning had not had her own small income, free from the machinations of her father, there would be no possible elopement and no drama. The couple had a mutual friend the painter, Robert Haydon, who committed suicide as a result of a huge financial loss. But the movie simplifies even further what the play barely mentions.

Escapism alone can not explain the popularity of the play and film. The play focuses instead on the father's opposition to marriage, implying rather strongly that he was a rapist, molester and that incestous feelings were behind his strange and vehement opposition to his daughters marrying. In real life Edward Mouton Barrett was opposed to all of his 12 children marrying and disinherited the boys and girls who disobeyed him. In some of Elizabeth's letters there are hints of physical abuse, but no explicit examples are ever named. The application of modern psychology to Mr. Barrett's strange attitudes (Elizabeth describes them as "eccentricity and something more") was probably appealing to 1930s audiences as well as the lurid subject matter. Most appealing of all, was probably the theme of breaking away from one's extended family and focusing on creating a new, separate "nuclear" family. Demographically many Americans were in this boat. The Depression caused many families to stay together perhaps longer than the young people could wish as marriages were happening later, etc. My own grandparents were forced to move back in with my great-grand parents, with not always harmonious results.

As for the production of the film, it was first promised to Marion Davies. After a battle royale with Norma Shearer, the role was reassigned and the kerflufle that followed led to Davies, and the substantial bank roll behind William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan pictures, leaving MGM. As a result Hearst papers refused to review the film, which probably hurt its box office a bit. Not wanting anything to do with this hornet's nest of studio politics, Brian Aherne ran a mile from the part. The role fell to a somewhat unhappy Fredric March who complained that director, Sydney Franklin was so focused on Shearer that he allowed him to get away with the worst excesses of hamish acting. Not only does this seem like unfair criticism (it's the director's fault that you can't control your hamish instincts?) it is just plain wrong. March is actually quite wonderful and perfectly suited to the part. In real life, Robert Browning was an intense dude. This was a man who had major life crisis in his twenties because he read a poem by Percy B. Shelley. He wildly declared his love for Elizabeth Barrett Browning in his first letter to her and then spent the next 16 months trying to prove his feelings were not mere fanboy gushing. He could be overly enthusiastic (friends described him as loud-mouthed), impetuous and even unreasonably optimistic. Had he not been all these things as well as a cracking great poet he never would have gotten Elizabeth Barrett Browning to marry him.

Norma Shearer is equally well-suited, though it is not what we typically think of as a Shearer material. I think this film is often neglected by Shearer fans, because it was technically post-code. While some of the references to incest were toned down from the play, these changes were actually very minor and the film stands as one of her edgiest and most powerful performances. While Norma is emotionally restrained and subtle, she really sells the idea that is a woman battling for her life and independence, standing up to a tyrannical, even dangerous father. In one of her letters to Robert Browning, Elizabeth declares that her father would rather see her dead on his doorstep than married. I don't know how anyone could watch the last ten minutes of the film and not hum "I am woman here me roar" to themselves while Norma, with the help of her maid, Wilson (Una O'Connor) gains the strength to pick up and leave her oppressive environment for the man she loves. Franklin gives her a gorgeous close-up as she surveys for a final time the room where she's spent most of her adult life. It's powerful stuff and it hasn't been diluted a bit by the intervening seven decades since it was shot.

The unacknowledged star of the show is Charles Laughton who is at his scary best as the bullying, manipulative father. "They can't censor the twinkle in my eye" he famously groused when producers had to tone down some of his more overtly sexual moments. In a scene where his niece sits in his lap and fondles his whiskers, the stage directions for the play insist that he slaps her roughly on the thigh while she squeals in delight. This is really the only purge I can find in his scenes, which survive almost verbatim from the stage version of the script. Laughton is aided by the wonderful Maureen O'Sullivan who plays Elizabeth's lively sister Henrietta. O'Sullivan gets a great scene at the end where she relishes delivering Elizabeth's good-bye letter to their father and one very funny scene early on between she and a tongue-tied suitor whom she continually admonishes not to speak before he can get a word out to her. I'm pretty sure Woody Allen ripped off the whole concept for a similar scene in Bullets over Broadway. This sparkling bit of nonsense was invented by screenwriter Ernest Vajda for the film as comic relief.

I've spent most of the intervening ten days since I first watched the film reading everything I could get my hands on about the two poets who are subject of the film, including a volume of their letters, the script of the play, Barrett-Browning's volume of poetry written during their courtship, Sonnetts from the Portugese, and a feminist biography of her life, which dismisses the film as reducing her to a cheerful invalid who has to be rescued by a man. The problem with this assessment is the same one that haunts Barrets of Wimpole Street. When you add a layer of contemporary expectations to something that happened in the past you are really just twisting it to your own ends. We may never really understand the tortured relationship between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her father. It is probably certain that it was not as dysfunctional as what appeared on stage or screen in the 1930s. I am equally certain that this film was not intended to be a weak-kneed reinforcement of Barrett-Browning as a cheerful invalid. Of all the films in which I've seen Shearer since starting this blog, I liked The Barretts of Wimpole Street the best. I think it deserves a second look from fans as it may be the height of her achievement as a barrier- breaker for the way in which women were depicted in film.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eye Candy of the Day: I love inter-library loan

If you've been wondering where I've been the past couple of days you can rest assured I'm not off on a bender inspired by Colin Firth's loss at the Oscars. No, I'd pretty well resigned myself to that a few weeks ago when a good friend of mine who is very good at Oscar predictions informed me that Jeff Bridges was a lock. I still held out hope, but I knew deep down Colin was like Ralph Nader in 2000 in that he was the latest in a long line of lost causes which I've supported. At least no one is going to blame me for George Bush getting elected this time.

Nope, I've been off in the library digging through old movie star biographies, reading plays and poems that relate to some of the movies I've been watching. I love inter-library loan. It's like Netflix for books. Check out this sa-weeet image from an out of print bio of Robert Donat. This is Robert Donat and Flora Robson in Mary Read, a stage production in 1934 at His Majesty's Theater. How much of a hottie was Flora in her riding pants and over the knee boots? Wow, and I always think of her as Queen Elizabeth!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The 39 Caps

I've been in screen capping mood lately. I'm screen capping happy. (Scappy?) Not content to let the good folks at 1,000 Frames of Hitchcock do my work for me, I had to go out and make 39 caps from one of my favorite films. Gosh it was fun. So fun, I couldn't really stop at just 39. This is a recap, so spoilers abound.

As with Notorious, Hitchcock chooses to introduce his hero, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) from behind in The 39 Steps. In Notorious, I think it is to keep Devlin's character ambiguous and shadowy, here, I think it's more of a "look out behind you!" kind of thing.

After several minutes of the music hall and Mr. Memory, we finally see Hannay from the front. And even then it's not clear that he is the focus of the film. His question, "How far is Winnepeg from Montreal?" is one of many shouted out. It's amusing to me, given my post on Man Hunt a few weeks ago, that here we have a Brit playing a Canadian in a chase movie. Hey, Robert Donat, you and Walter Pidgeon should switch. Nah. On second thought you are perfect in every way in this film, Mr. Donat.

A scuffle breaks out in the music hall and shots are fired. Hannay helps a mysterious lady with a veil to navigate the press of the crowd.

Anabella "Smith" (Lucie Mannheim) asks him if he will take her back to his place. Thinking it a proposition, Hannay is a bit shocked. "What's the idea?" he asks. Later he repeats the question when he realizes that Pamela (Madeleine Carroll) who has been handcuffed to him all night has broken free of her bonds and NOT done a runner. So what's the idea, Richard Hannay? Are you unaware that you attractive or something? (Thereby making yourself even more attractive...tricky!) After she assures him that he has the right end of the stick, he says, jokingly "It's your funeral." You've really gotta love Sir Alfred's wicked sense of humor.

Ok, I'm pretty gaga about everything about Richard Hannay's Art Deco/Art Noveau apartment (including its occupant) but this bar is just too much. If you only knew how many walnut hideaway bars I've lost in Ebay Auctions you would cry.

This is not only my favorite cap from The 39 Steps, but this may be my single favorite moment in any Robert Donat film. I can't explain why exactly, maybe it's the size of the fish or the way the cigarette is dangling from his lips. I'm a sucker for kitchen scenes in 1930s films, but kitchen scenes in which men cook? There oughta be a blog about it or something. By the way, this is the first of four fish references in the film. In Scotland the Crofter asks him if he can "eat the herring?" Then the Crofter's wife cooks up a huge pan full of whole herrings. At the political rally a woman cries out, "what about the herring fisheries?" Somewhere a screenwriter was winning a bet that they could get four overt fish references into a feature film.

Hannay isn't having any of Anabella's spy nonsense. Come on, man, she's wearing a veil. What more proof could you want? After this he takes the knife, nonchalantly out to inspect the window to confirm that men are indeed following her. They're still in the kitchen eating fish and he's still in his overcoat. The whole idea of their initial impulsive hook-up is wordlessly forgotten.

Annabella gets it in the back with that same knife. In offering to take the couch, he probably saved his own life. Who says chivalry is dead?

A clue! Hannay finds a map of Scotland with the village "Alt na Shallach" circled in pen, is found clutched in the dead woman's hand. My friends at CGMTV once made a video of every instance in which Cary Grant's hair gets mussed up. If I ever do such a thing for Robert Donat, you can bet this scene will be in there.

The next morning Hannay trades coats with the milk men, in order to evade the murderers. This is the first of four times that he borrows a coat.

There is something a tad unsavory and even menacing about the two men on the train to Scotland. I think they must be related to the really unpleasant passengers in The Lady Vanishes. Even so, you gotta love 1930s lingerie.

With the police chasing him around a moving train, Hannay throws them off by bursting into Pamela's compartment and kissing her. The "throw them off" kiss is a move later perfected by Cary Grant in Notorious (and at least half a dozen episodes of Remington Steeele.) I love Madelaine' Carroll's expression here. She really does a lot with that one eye ball.

One of about 1,000 instances in this movie where Hitchcock blurs the line between sex and violence. No matter how much she protests afterward, the truth remains that she did drop her glasses.

After Pamela turns him in, he makes a daring escape by jumping out of the door as the train crosses the Forth of Firth Bridge. If the cops were smart they'd get him in one of those Hannibal Lector suits right away. This dude is slippery.

After the exciting escape from the bridge (which happens off screen) Hannay finds himself miles from Alt na Shellach. He arranges some accommodation for the night with a Crofter and his wife, Margaret. "Could ye sleep in there, do ye think?" she asks. "Try and stop me." The little bittersweet romantic interlude between Hannay and Margaret is my favorite part of the film.

Over dinner Margaret reads about Hannay in the newspaper. He must convince her that's he not a murderer without saying a word while her suspicious husband sits inches a way. This is a really tense scene. Hitchcock is completely economical conveying exactly what the audience needs to know in a few close-ups and this medium shot.
The Crofter excuses himself to go shut the barn door (likely story, Crofter!) and spies on his wife through the window. We can't hear their conversation but he gets the wrong idea about what is happening here. He isn't completely wrong though, he correctly surmises that there is a spark between his wife and the handsome stranger.

I guess she didn't try to stop him from sleeping in the box bed.

Margaret tries to warn Hannay that the police are coming to search the house, but the Crofter thinks they are "Makin' love." Hannay, to save Margaret's honor, confesses that the police are after him and offers the Crofter five pounds to keep his mouth shut. The Crofter accepts his money but is planning on turning him over, anyway.

Margaret gives Hannay her husband's overcoat and tells him to scoot before he's "catched." I love the way Hannay says, "I'll never forget you for this. What's yer name?" Hannay realizes that Margaret is attracted to him and he uses it a bit. At first he flirts to keep her from reading the dreaded newspaper, but later he feels grateful that she's willing to go out on a limb for him. Throughout the film, women come to his rescue, repeatedly, except for Pamela, whom he imposed upon. So the moral of the story is, Richard Hannay wannabees, never assume!

He steals a quick good-bye kiss and then he's gone. Margaret is left to deal with her husband which isn't pretty. The whole breathlessness of this scene is really quite great. It leaves the viewer feeling like Margaret, not wanting it to end.

Annabella explained, while they were eating their Haddock that the chief spy out to get her was missing the top joint of his little finger. After escaping from the Crofter's he heads for Alt na Shellach. The Professor, who Hannay believes is an ally, turns out to be the last man in Britain that he'd want to see. This is probably the most famous scene in the film.

Like the best of Hitchcock's civilized villains, The Professor offers him a drink, and a gun with which to shoot himself. When Hannay refuses he shoots him anyway. I love that Hannay is still clutching his cigarette. In real life, Robert Donat had asthma. I'm sure all the smoking he did in his movies didn't do him any favors.

Hannay finds himself again in Margaret's debt as the hymnal in her husband's coat stopped the bullet. Hannay turns himself in to the local sheriff. That doesn't go so well so he escapes by jumping through a window.

Hannay finds himself in a political hall, mistaken for the next speaker. He extemporizes a great speech. I love the top hat on the daius, as Hannay has almost a magical ability to think on his feet.

His speech is a rousing success and he backs away from the crowd slowly, unaware that the police are behind him, waiting for him. I warned you that Hitchcock filmed him from behind a lot but you didn't believe me.

Pamela, that same girl from the train, recognizes him and turns him over to the police. He gives her an earful about the 39 Steps and the secret that the Professor is about to take out of the country. The police decide she'd better come along down town to identify him.

As he's being led away in handcuffs he waves to the crowd who are still pumped up about his speech.

The police act strangely and decide to take them to Inverary. Suspecting that they aren't the police at all Hannay confronts them. When a "whole flock of detectives" (sheep) block the road, the bad guys handcuff Pamela to Hannay. He doesn't seem to cut up about it, does he?

Hannay escapes with Pamela in tow. It's not easy considering he has to drag her and keep his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming.

There's a whole thing with them getting tangled up in this fence. I made five caps of it and then I decided that they were all too dark to really appreciate how funny this scene is. Like a screwball comedy, this section of The 39 Steps has the war between the sexes, contention over sleeping arrangements, confusion, misunderstanding and an undercurrent of romance.

Pamela and Hannay hide beneath a waterfall. OK, messy hair again, I admit it!

Hannay whistles a tune that he heard at the Music Hall, except that he can't remember where he heard it. This little throw away detail becomes crucial at the end of the film.

I love this little bit of stage business as he starts cleaning leaves out of her hair. Pamela's not really afraid of him and stuff like this is why. He's just too nice and considerate to have murdered that woman at Portland Place.

Since Pamela still doesn't believe that he's innocent, Hannay decides to make the best of his reputation as killer and bully Pamela into cooperating. "For all you know, I might murder a girl a week," he says. She's not really buying it though and she pushes him off her. "I like your pluck," he says.

Hannay orders Pamela to keep quiet as they are about to get a room at the Argyll Arms. If she makes a peep he'll shoot her with the gun that the audience knows he doesn't have. "Does that penitrate the ivory dome?" he asks. If he isn't a murderer, he's being a bit condescending here. Still, Pamela seems to be warming up to him a bit.

Hannay and Pamela don't fool anyone that they're married, but Innkeeper Alice thinks they are a runaway couple and so rents them a room anyway. She cheekily asks the lady if she'd like to borrow a nightgown.

With the pipe that Pamela is meant to think is a gun pressed firmly against her, Hannay convinces Alice not to let anyone know they're here. Alice, mistaking their panting and pawing of one another as true love (they are chained together, afterall) agrees not give them away.

After Alice leaves, Pamela decides to take off her wet stockings. This proves to be problematic.

This may be the only time Hannay paws Pamela that's not in the service of keeping her quiet. He is genuinely enjoying himself. Amazingly, she lets it slide.

He does eventually agree to hold her sandwich.

Reluctantly, Pamela agrees to share a bed with Hannay. He begins telling her a wacky, made-up story about his life in crime and his criminal ancestor the Cornish Blue Beard.

The camera catches Pamela enjoying herself a little.

His little bedtime story puts her to sleep.

She no sooner manages to wriggle out of the handcuffs, than he wants to snuggle. She manages to get away without waking him. She overhears the two men whom she thought were policemen describing how since Hannay is on the loose "The whole 39 steps have been alerted." She also overhears the crucial clue that the secrets will be taken in hand at the London Palladium. She returns to the room, finally convinced of Hannay's innocence.

Hannay wakes finding himself alone in bed.

He's happily surprised that Pamela hasn't left. That is until he hears that she let the bad guys get away without waking him.

At the Palladium, Hannay figures out that the Professor is using Mr. Memory to take the secrets out of the country. He tries to tell the police who are there to arrest him. He creates a diversion by shouting to Mr. Memory, "What are the 39 Steps." To everyone's suprise Mr. Memory answers and gets shot for his trouble.

Poor memory pours out his secrets to Hannay before dying and gets his catch phrase, "Am I right, sir?" in one last time. I love that you can see the chorus girls lined up in the back ground. The show must go on.

As Hannay backs toward the camera a final time, he's joined by Pamela. This time she willingly holds his hand. The end(s).